Flux calibration of the AAO/UKST superCOSMOS Hα survey

David J. Frew*, Ivan S. Bojičić, Quentin A. Parker, Mark J. Pierce, M. L. P. Gunawardhana, W. A. Reid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The AAO/UKST SuperCOSMOS Hα Survey (SHS) was, when completed in 2003, a powerful addition to extant wide-field surveys. The combination of areal coverage, spatial resolution and sensitivity in a narrow imaging band, still marks it out today as an excellent resource for the astronomical community. The 233 separate fields are available online in digital form, with each field covering 25 deg2. The SHS has been the motivation for equivalent surveys in the north, and new digital Hα surveys now beginning in the south such as VPHAS+. It has been the foundation of many important discovery projects with the Macquarie/AAO/Strasbourg Hα planetary nebula project being a particularly successful example. However, the full potential of the SHS has been hampered by lack of a clear route to acceptable flux calibration from the base photographic data. We have determined the calibration factors for 170 individual SHS fields, and present a direct pathway to the measurement of integrated Ha fluxes and surface brightnesses for resolved nebulae detected in the SHS.We also include a catalogue of integrated Hα fluxes for >100 planetary and other nebulae measured from the SHS, and use these data to show that fluxes, accurate to ±0.10-0.14 dex (~25-35 per cent), can be obtained from these fields. For the remaining 63 fields, a mean calibration factor of 12.0 counts pixel-1 R-1 can be used, allowing the determination of reasonable integrated fluxes accurate to better than ±0.2 dex (~50 per cent). We outline the procedures involved and the caveats that need to be appreciated in achieving such flux measurements. This paper forms a handy reference source that will significantly increase the scientific utility of the SHS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberstt1986
Pages (from-to)1080-1094
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

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